London - Happy birthday to Kate Moss, who is 40 today (January 16). Pause for a moment to choke on that indigestible nugget of news. Mossy is 40?
The little waif from Croydon, the she-sprite who almost single-handedly launched heroin chic, the model who went on to become the face of Calvin Klein and Chanel and Rimmel – to name a few – now paddling in the shallows of Old Lady Lake? How on earth did that happen?
Why, it just seems like yesterday when Kate was first seen posing in her pants in Vogue, framed by a set of fairy lights, back in the summer of 1993. The famously grungy shots prompted a great deal of vitriol, including the assertion from the then editor of Cosmopolitan, Marcelle d’Argy Smith, that the images were “hideous and tragic. I believe they can only appeal to the paedophile market.”
Later that year, 19 and fresh-faced, Kate posed unashamedly topless for a global marketing campaign for Obsession perfume. The ordinary girl from south London, daughter of a barmaid mother and travel agent father, was on her way.
Since then she has been a beautiful blot on the cultural landscape; somehow hanging on in there through good times and bad, despite scandal, disgrace after disgrace and, of course, drug allegations.
She has been cast in gold by sculptor Marc Quinn, had her naked portrait painted by Lucian Freud, and gazed down from a million billboards and glossy magazine covers. She is the most enduring and popular British fashion model of all, eclipsing even Twiggy. No one else comes close to Moss’s reach and appeal, her ability to sell clothes across the economic spectrum, from High Street to haute couture.
It seems doubtful she will, like Twiggy, sail into her sixties approaching national treasure status and modelling cosy jumpers for Marks & Spencer. But you never know.
The odd thing is that, for an age, Kate Moss seemed ageless. While we all got older and the world frayed at the seams, she somehow stayed the same, suspended in the golden syrup of time. She hovered, like a skyhawk, over her undiminished youth for at least a decade. Then the sadness of love affairs gone wrong and the toxic fall-out from a party lifestyle suddenly took their toll.
Now here we are at this perilous threshold for any woman, particularly for a model, particularly for a model called Kate Moss.
Just imagine four long decades, 40 summers and winters spent working at the exhausting business of Being Kate. Of living hard, partying even harder, of wearing that skirt or this jacket just the right way, of Caribbean summers, of epic festival-going, of highly unsuitable boyfriends (remember the the terrible darkness of the Pete Doherty days), of good love gone bad, of squeezing out a child somewhere along the way, and of always refusing to give up, give in, conform, explain herself or grow old gracefully.
She posed naked in Playboy – the most controversial shot one of her in a bunny outfit, on all fours, with her bottom in the air; an image that feminists rightly hated.
Yet Kate Moss just does not care, never has done.
Charity, good works, setting a fine example? None of this ever mattered. She stands for nothing except herself, she does nothing that is not self-indulgent, there is no moral dimension.
She makes about £12 million (R214m) a year, and much of that fortune is based on the incontrovertible premise that she is greatly admired and adored by teenage girls. Yet she accepts none of the responsibility that comes with the territory.
For example, instead of joining in the size-zero debate and encouraging potentially anorexic young women to live and eat healthily, she instead claimed “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”. In 2011, on No Smoking Day, she walked down Marc Jacobs’s catwalk puffing on a cigarette; a bid to glamourise smoking that put her on the front pages.
There are still moments, of course, when her beauty can take your breath away. In comparison to the current crop of bland young models, like Miranda Kerr for example, she has a much more interesting face and body. While other 1990s supermodels like Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington and even “Blood Diamonds” Naomi Campbell have faded from centre stage, she alone has hung on to her top spot as one of the world’s great models.
In 2005, photographs surfaced that appeared to show her sniffing cocaine, but even this did not damage her brand in the long term. Although she was dropped by several clients, including Burberry, she returned the following year to make more money, not less.
So, she is not quite middle-aged now, not in the parameters of this modern world, but she is certainly through the greying portal. That dewy incandescence, the button-bright promise of her earlier years, has mouldered into something darker and far less wholesome.
We have had Pretty Kate, Icon Kate and Incomparable Kate. Sadly, we have also had Grunge Kate, Drunk Kate and Cokehead Kate. From ingenue to maturity, from joys and heartaches, you can map out her life and changing looks boyfriend by boyfriend.
As she turns 40, is her smoky charm and louche appeal beginning to curdle?
After spending more than half her life in the public eye, Kate Moss is still in demand, although sometimes she carries more than a hint of the party coming to an end, a suggestion that she is stuck in the dry dust of the morning after the life before.
But it is not over.
Not just yet anyway. – Daily Mail